Category Archives: Financial Services

The Hartford Welcomes Junior Achievement To Asylum Hill In Historic Style

by Categorized: Education, Financial Services, Real Estate Date:

A grand, wood-paneled space in a 1925 building in Asylum Hill that once served as the main hall of a bank is coming back to life in a new financial role, this time to draw youths into the world of money and business.

The two-story room dominates the historic building at 70 Farmington Ave. in Hartford, which has long been owned by The Hartford. Now the insurance company has renovated it for Junior Achievement, which recently moved from cramped quarters on Main Street.

Click here for a photo gallery showing the building

Lou Golden, president of Junior Achievement of Southwest New England, in an office overlooking the main room at the group's new digs.  John Woike/The Hartford Courant

Lou Golden, president of Junior Achievement of Southwest New England, in an office overlooking the main room at the group’s new digs.
John Woike/The Hartford Courant

The move gives Junior Achievement a 6,100-square-foot location not only for offices for its 13-person staff, but a central place in a neighborhood on the edge of downtown for programs that bring thousands of volunteers together with tens of thousands of students. These programs, such as start-up enterprises and financial literacy events, happen largely in schools and at agencies such as Boys and Girls Clubs.

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Higher One Buys Services Business From Sallie Mae for $47M

by Categorized: Financial Services, Technology Date:

Higher One, the New Haven-based educational financial services firm, has acquired the Campus Solutions business of Sallie Mae in a $47.25 million deal that boosts the company’s offerings to schools and students.

The business from Sallie Mae, the student loan giant, includes e-commerce, bill payment systems, refund disbursement and administration of tuition payment plans, Higher One and Sallie Mae said in a joint release.

For Higher One, which ran afoul of regulators last year over fees and agreed to pay $11 million in restitution to students, the cash deal solidifies its standing as a dominant player in student financial services. The company is increasing its size and offerings at a time when investor confidence in the industry has been shaken by default rates, stricter federal regulations and other factors.

“Sallie Mae Campus Solutions has been a trusted business partner to institutions,” said Mark Volchek, CEO and co-founder of Higher One. “The Campus Solutions team is talented and possesses a profound knowledge of financial assistance and payment solutions. We are excited to increase the breadth of Higher One’s offerings and expect to continue to bring best practices for refund disbursement services, payment processing services, and data analytics now to more than 1,600 campuses and more than 13 million students nationwide.”

Higher One Holdings Inc. is a Connecticut success story that’s becoming a more established force in its industry. The firm was founded by Yale friends in 2000 with the idea of helping students receive and manage refunds from colleges, and helping colleges lower the cost of handing out the refunds by tying the money to a bank card that students could use for general purchases. The company branched out to a variety of technology-based services, including checking accounts.

Higher One came under criticism last year for charging multiple fees when students tried to make purchases with insufficient funds. After an FDIC investigation, it agreed last August to make restitution to 60,000 students and pay a $110,000 fine. Later in the year, the company offered an account with a flat monthly fee.

Higher One maintained it did not violate any laws or ethical standards, and in an interview last August, chairman and president Miles Lasater said the student charges at issue stemmed from practices in 2008 to 2010, which had already ended.

Higher One also reported first-quarter results Tuesday, with revenues of $57.4 million, slightly down from the same quarter a year earlier, and net income of $9.8 million, or 21 cents a diluted share, compared with $13.4 million, or 24 cents a share. Expenses were higher in several areas but Volchek said revenue sources were further diversified.

Shares have been trending downward since the start of 2012, when they traded at around $18. Shares closed at $9.87 Tuesday before the late-day announcement of the merger and earnings.

Sallie Mae is the nickname for SLM Corp., which was founded in 1972 as the Student Loan Marketing Association, federally chartered to administer government-backed student loans. The company became fully private in 2004 and issues private student loans, but also administers remaining federal loans under a program that is winding down. Direct federal loans to students have hurt profits at Sallie Mae, which is based in Newark, Del.